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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

Peoria, AZ (ISN) – A four-run second inning and home runs by Franklin Guitierrez and Nelson Cruz sparked the Seattle Mariners to a 7-1 victory over the Texas Rangers in MLB Cactus League play Friday afternoon in front of 9,742 fans at Peoria Stadium.

The Seattle Mariners Nelson Cruz launched a solo-home run in the third inning Friday to help his team to a 7-1 win over Texas (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Mariners scored seven runs over three consecutive innings in the second, third and fourth innings, to effectively put the game out of reach early.

Franklin Gutierrez got things going when he opened a four-run bottom of the second for the Mariners with a solo home run to deep left-center field. Following Gutierrez’ home run, Chris Iannetta walked and one batter later, Shawn O’Malley singled to right field.

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Seattle starter Nathan Karns recorded 7 strikeouts and allowed just 1 run on 3 hits over 4.2 innings pitched to improve to 1-1 this spring (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Leonys Martín drove home Iannetta with a single, and O’Malley scored on an RBI groundout from Norichika Aoki. Martín eventually scored on a fielding error to give the Mariners a 4-0 advantage.

Meanwhile Mariners starter Nathan Karns recorded 7 strikeouts and allowed just 1 run on 3 hits over 4.2 innings pitched to improve to 1-1 this spring.

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Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor looks to put a tag on Seattle baserunner Leonys Martin on this play at second base during Friday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Karns allowed the leadoff batter to reach base in both the first and second innings, but each time bounced back to hold the Rangers scoreless, ending each frame on a strikeout.

Karns finished his day by retiring the last 6 batters he faced, four on strikeouts. After a rocky top of the third in which he allowed a run on a double and two walks, Karns retired the Rangers in order in the fourth with two strikeouts.

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The Mariners Ketel Marte launches a RBI double during the fourth inning Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Mariners padded their lead in the bottom of the third when Nelson Cruz lined a solo home run – his first of the spring – over the right-centre fence to stake the Mariners to a 5-1 lead.

They would manufacture two more runs in the bottom of the fourth, when with one out, Martín was hit by a pitch, stole second base and came around to score on a Ketel Marte’s double into the left field corner. Kyle Seager then brought home Marte with asingle to stretch the Mariners lead to 7-1.

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The Mariners used some good defence to their advantage Friday. Here second baseman Shawn O’Malley get set to leap out of the way of a sliding Isiah Kiner-Falefa after turning a double-play (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Adrian Sampson (2.1 IP), Tony Zych (1.0 IP) and Jonathan Aro (1.0 IP) combined for 4.1 scoreless innings pitched in relief. Aro struck out the side in the top of the ninth to close out the win.

With the win the Mariners run their Cactus League record to 9-8-2 and they will have a chance to improve on that Saturday when they split-squads to face the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium at 1:05 p.m. and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Peoria Stadium at 7:10 p.m.

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BC native Tyler O’Neill, a former member of the Langley Blaze and now a prospect in the Mariners system saw some time in right-field Friday and made a single plate appearance against the Rangers (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Right-hander Taijuan Walker is scheduled to start againt Royals left-hander Matt Strahm, while right-hander Felix Hernandez is slated to face Diamondbacks right-hander Tyler Wagner.

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Seattle closer Jonathan Aro struck out the side in the ninth inning to close out the Mariners win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Game Notes: Maple Ridge BC’s Tyler O’Neill a former member of the Langley Blaze, saw action in this game for the Mariners, coming in to play right field mid-game and striking out in one at bat. Gutierrez is now batting .389 (7×18) with 4 home runs and 7 RBI on the spring. Martín stole 2 bases in the game and is tied with O’Malley for the team lead with 5 steals apiece this spring. The Mariners lead the Cactus League with 23 steals.